Just climb this one mountain
The mindset of training is incredibly visionary, and incredibly myopic all at once – and you must make good use of both of those to have success in your training regimen, especially if you are new to it.
How’s that? Because the great thing about strength training and cardiovascular conditioning (to be known heretofore as ‘exercise’) is that it’s incredibly beneficial to your well-being.
The other thing is that it is hard.
(That’s what she said 😉)
It can be really, really hard. There will be aches and pains and stiff muscles, fatigue and even soreness at the beginning. There’s no way around it.
But a long-term training plan doesn’t have to be an exercise in spartan living and kale smoothies and it doesn’t have to be six to 12 months of suffering. Not to mention how easy other things can become when you’ve gone outside your comfort zone to hold a plank longer than ever before, to finish a set of squats, or to literally climb that mountain in front of you.
Embrace process. The idea of putting one foot in front of the other, over and over, is a time-honoured one. The next step is the only one that matters.
The same goes for losing weight, getting stronger and leaning out – whatever your fitness goal happens to be. The next set, the next workout and the next meal are all that matter in the long run. Because the long run does not exist. It hasn’t happened yet, so worrying about cheating on your nutrition plan down the road is pointless and an exercise in futility.
Last week, the family and I went to Mont Tremblant for a few days, and even though it represented a few days of restaurant meals, a holiday, or a vacation doesn’t actually have to be a time for your goals to get off track. There’s a big difference between enjoying a treat of an ice-cream cone or a beaver-tail pastry and letting all your progress go to hell. It’s one thing to mentally give yourself a little break and yet another thing to let the regimen drop. For instance, I knew that because we were eating in restaurants for a few days, I took care to take extra walks and hikes, ostensibly to burn off the excess calories from restaurant food.
Even though our hotel boasted no in-house fitness facilities, I was able to find a gym in Mont-Tremblant village that served my needs and as a result, I was able to satisfy my workout responsibilities and enjoy some time away.
The metaphor for climbing the mountain and the literal action of climbing the mountain were equally resonant for the good and simple reason that any mountain, when examined from below, seems daunting. Microtransactions of putting one foot in front of the other the entire way, with my head down, made it so that every step was manageable as part of a larger whole. The mountain is easier to climb when it’s broken down a little. One foot in front of the other, over and over and over.
So, that’s what I said to myself when I embarked on the longest and most arduous hike of the week. Just keep on putting one foot in front of the other. I’m discovering that’s the recipe for any time of trauma, no matter the trauma. No matter the challenge. If you know the steps, you just keep taking them.
That’s the challenge I’ve been faced with, too. And that’s maintenance of good habits when I’m feeling emotionally out of whack, be it too happy or too sad.
A friend once told me that there was little grey area in my life; that I am intense and I see things in black and white. Well, that’s fair. But there’s more grey in there than I like to show sometimes, and it’s when we live in that grey area that I think life becomes just a little more manageable.